30 December 2017

Somalia: Somaliland, Beacon of Democracy


While the Horn and Great Lakes region has been struggling to conduct credible elections without claims of rigging and violence, Somalia and the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland are going into 2018 with optimism about building a stronger democracy.

The two countries have demonstrated democratic progress despite constant threats from Al Shabaab and challenging clan-based politics.

In February, a joint Somalia national assembly and the senate voted for Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "Farmajo," who defeated incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in what observers termed a vote for reforms and anti-corruption.

Just like in 2012 when the little known Mr Hassan ousted then incumbent Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Somalia has for the second time in five years, opted for a change of guard and consequent smooth transition.

Fifth president

In mid-December, Somaliland swore in its fifth president since breaking away from the larger Somalia in 1991. In November, Somaliland became the first country in Africa to use iris-scan technology as the biometric base for a voter register, in which Muse Bihi Abdi, a retired pilot, was elected president.

Despite the world refusing to recognise it for the past 26 years, the 2017 election was reputed to be the first incident-free polls to be held in The Horn of Africa in many years. It attracted more than 60 international observers from 27 countries funded by the British government.

"Somaliland proved to the region that peaceful handover of power is the way to go when the two former presidents joined the president-elect at his inauguration on December 13," said veteran journalist Yusuf Gabobe.


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